What do I think about Mark Hunnemann’s book on ghosts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Mark Hunnemann is a friend of mine and I respect his knowledge and experience. I was eager to read his book on ghosts because this is just an interesting area of discussion. I don’t really watch ghost hunter shows or anything like that. I have seen a couple of episodes but frankly, it just looked stupid. When I was on my honeymoon with my wife, we went to a museum together at the beach and we were told there was a ghost walk going on where we’d hear stories about ghosts at Ocean Isle Beach. We thought we’d see what it was like since it was free. It started with a picture that was supposed to show ghosts through a window which I told my wife Allie that it looked to me like it just needed more Windex. Things kind of went downhill from there and to this day we can make jokes about the “Kindred spirit of the mailbox.”
I opened up Mark’s book then wanting to get a fuller look at ghosts from a biblical perspective. Mark comes from an area that is quite easily to identify as extremely Calvinist with a strong presuppositionalism. If you do not share this viewpoint, which I do not, then this can be problematic. If his Calvinism and his interpretation of Scripture holds, then his conclusion I think follows well, but while I am skeptical of ghosts, though I do try to remain open, there are some problems that I was facing as I went through that I did not think were being answered and this could be due to a lack of real data on the topic.
I would have liked to have seen more interaction with that data. For instance, I was not too familiar with EMV technology when I started the book and what its impact is supposed to be on studies of ghosts. I ended the book not familiar with EMV technology and what its impact is supposed to be on studies of ghosts. This kind of material was not dealt with. Of course it could be the data gathered from these means is bogus. It could be that these are faked accounts. I am not a specialist so I cannot say. The point is that it needs to be dealt with.
I also was left wondering what the view of the afterdeath was. For instance, it’s my belief that Heaven and Hell do not refer to particular places. They refer instead to states of relation between God and man. You could see my view as akin to Lewis’s in The Great Divorce. Thus, a person who dies I think could still be here, though I would not call them someone who appears as a ghost. They have to be somewhere after all. Does that mean they are wandering in a world apart from God? Not at all. That’s impossible. God is omnipresent and I think those on the other side to use a better term see the glory that is already there that we miss out on. Non-Christians meanwhile live in shame and anger knowing they are surrounded by the presence of one they’ve hated so much.
I could also agree with the writer that many of these are demonic beings coming in another form. I have no problem with that and while I do think it’s good to be skeptical of claims, one does not need to be unreasonably skeptical, but yet I couldn’t help but wonder if demons explain all stories. What also of more innocent stories such as the accounts of people who feel the presence of a loved one in their room suddenly for a brief moment and then the phone rings to tell them that that loved one died?
To get back to theory of people being here in some sense though dead, could that be behind some ghosts? Could they be in fact people who have died apart from Christ and are living lives of agony as restless wanderers at times? I am open. Could I know that? No. Could I establish it? No. Do I have any strong cases? No. I am just open. While we are told that ghosts are supposed to represent all of the public around us, I do not think we can really establish that. Too much of ghost hunting seems to be speculation built on speculation built on speculation. How could anyone know some of these things? One could have an interesting theory and maybe interesting evidence for it, but I hesitate to call it knowledge.
Mark no doubt writes with a knowledge and love of God and many of his statements on grace and forgiveness are beautiful, but being one who does not share the viewpoint of Calvinism or the presuppositional approach, I found myself just wondering about the other data. You can say all you want that the position of ghosts does contradict the Word of God. I would have no problem with that, but that does not mean that it does not need to be explained. One could argue from a more YEC perspective that evolution contradicts the Word of God. (I do not share this position but I am speaking on a hypothetical) Even if that is so, one still needs to explain the data and not just show that it contradicts Scripture. This is part of having a fully cohesive worldview to explain all the data.
On that note, the importance of worldview thinking I was pleased to see. Not enough people do think about the worldviews that they hold and frankly, I think many of the problems we see in the church could be corrected if we just had good theology. Perhaps indeed much of our speculation with ghosts and matters like that would be less prevalent if we just had good theology. I am concerned when our churches seem to put a fascination into us of the dark side when we don’t know enough about our own side. (And this is done even by having regular events that “expose” satanism or seeing satanism involved in everything.)
If there is another edition put out of this book, I would like to see more interaction with the data that disagrees and what’s wrong or inconsistent about it in itself. Also, while I understand the writer writes from a Calvinistic viewpoint, it does come out too strong and those who do not share that viewpoint will find it hard to relate to or follow the arguments or find themselves persuaded. The material on grace and forgiveness is good and encouraging, but the argumentation and data need to be improved.
Mark’s book is available for purchase here.